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Which Came First, the Chicken, the Egg, or the Food Handler? Analysis of Salmonella enterica serotype Heidelberg Epidemics in a Closed Community

Virginia Vincent 1, H.M. Scott1 , Walid Alali1,R.B. Harvey2

Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA

Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, USDA-ARS-SPARC, College Station, Texas, USA

Objective –To demonstrate how wastewater analysis can supplement traditional disease surveillance systems

Animals or Sample Population – Wastewater from human lavatories in a closed community

Procedure – Searches of community medical records identified outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness in residents. Wastewater samples from before, during, and after the outbreaks were analyzed using culture, serotyping, PFGE, and PCR to isolate possible causal pathogens.

Results – These analytical methods identified pathogens in wastewater before, during, and after the outbreaks.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance – Wastewater may be a powerful disease surveillance and prevention tool.

Impact for Human Medicine (if appropriate) – Early warning about circulating pathogens can be especially important for managers of closed, high density communities such as nursing homes and cruise ships to prevent outbreaks in these high-risk communities.